Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Will We See Artists Grants?

Rocco Landesman, Chairman of the National Endowment for the Arts visited Cincinnati this week.

"This really is Exhibit A of what we're going to be talking about in the next three years at the NEA, how art and artists can transform a place and make it a completely different place," Landesman said. "The arts can revitalize neighborhoods, and boy, is this a great example."

Perhaps with such recognition of the artist's role in our communities, ArtsWave will finally develop artists grants as part of their new and expanded mission.

Monday, September 27, 2010

October is National Arts & Humanities Month in Ohio

Governor Ted Strickland has issued a proclamation declaring October National Arts & Humanities Month in Ohio.

“The arts and humanities embody much of the accumulated wisdom, intellect and imagination of humankind,” proclaims Gov. Strickland. “I hereby recognize October as Arts and Humanities Month in Ohio and call upon the residents of Ohio to celebrate and promote the arts and culture in our state.”

National Arts & Humanities Month (NAHM) has been celebrated since 1993 and provides a great opportunity for people to participate in the arts offered in their communities. The Ohio Arts Council (OAC) is teaming up with the Ohio Statehouse to celebrate NAHM by organizing a series of free arts events in downtown Columbus. Citizens are encouraged to visit for more information on events in their area.

For more information and events please see the OAC website.

Friday, September 24, 2010

I Guess Everyone's Catching the Wave!

Yesterday I criticized the Fine Arts Fund for changing their name to ArtsWave. However, it seems as though many people like it.

After surfing (ahem!) the internet looking for the new ArtsWave website, I found two other arts organizations with the same or similar name: ArtsWave in New York and Norfolk ArtsWave in Connecticut. Both are relatively young arts organizations, with very similar goals towards supporting the arts.

In New York, ArtsWave, which stands for Arts in Warwarsing and the Village of Ellenville, began its 501c3 process in February of 2008. This is the same month they unveiled their logo design by competition winner, Chuck Davidson.

The Norfolk ArtsWave website states:

"In that Plan a well-researched and clearly-articulated commitment was made to economic development based on Norfolk’s cultural roots. (my emphasis, of course) Norfolk ArtsWave!, which is the result of intense collaboration among townspeople, businesses and organizations, brings this very good strategy to life in a very good way."

Cincinnati's ArtsWave spent $150,000 for this "new" brand.

While I still argue an outside marketing firm cannot possibly do a good job of rebranding Cincinnati's history of arts support, I did expect at the very least New York's Resnicow Schroeder Associates to dip its toes in the water before branding the Fine Arts Fund with a name already used by groups in their own neighborhood.

Thursday, September 23, 2010

Water, Water Everywhere.....

Earlier this month, I wrote about my latest concerns with the Fine Arts Fund's decision to hire outside artists to rebrand their organization. My criticism rests on the obvious problem of collecting donations in the name of supporting local artists and failing to pay a local marketing firm to redesign their brand.

Yesterday, the Fine Arts Fund unveiled their outsourced effort with this.

Since this unveiling, I've been trying to imagine the long-time Fine Arts Fund donor proudly announce, "I belong to the ArtsWave." or "I give to the ArtsWave."


It sounds and looks like the Fine Arts Fund has has been swept up in their own water imagery with the now tired old "ripple effect" they've been touting for 3 or 4 years, and much over played Splash Dance video (you can find it yourself).

I guess we cannot expect a marketing firm from NYC to know Cincinnati's history of support for the arts and the identity of our arts donors. But the President and CEO, Mary McCullough-Hudson should.

Join me as I watch the real ripple effect of ArtsWave.

Sunday, September 19, 2010

The CAC Has Learned Nothing and Goes Nowhere New

As the CAC tries to market their new show, "Where Do We Go From Here? Selections from La Coleccion Jumex" as a local launch of Hispanic Heritage Month, the exhibition has nothing to do with Latino issues and art. Just because the private collection is from Mexico and the show includes work by artists with names like Guzman, Ortega, and Orozco doesn't make it a Hispanic Heritage show.

The collection instead reflects an interest in recognizing artists from Latin America participating in the Pop Art movement. The Jumex collection brings American and Latin American artists together to present a dialogue that may employ different languages, but explores very similar subjects. About 50 years ago, a number of artists and collectors actively addressed the lack of recognition in the arts of women, Latin Americans, and other marginal groups. The current show at the CAC shows the Jumex Collection successful in making a case for artists living in Mexico.

Is it an irony the CAC chooses to recontextualize the collection to help market the show for attendence? Of course not. As we saw with the Shepard Fairey show, this is the business of the CAC. No need to deal with art history if you want to simply throw a party.

Admittedly, Platow acknowledges the goal of the collection, however she goes on claim a general open-ended or broad scope of the show:

"The show is not a one-liner or super-straightforward statement - that's part of the beauty of it," says Platow. Art is not arranged chronologically or geographically, though there are themes: art about art, text in art, art and urban anthropology."

"We play with the fact that this is a private collection by a person with varied interests," Platow says. "We present an experience that proposes the moment before institutional framework is installed. Dichotomy doesn't exist in the installation or collection."

...Platow says, but "the collection is about transcendence."

"Transcendence," lack of chronology and nonexistent dichotomies are claimed characteristics that seem to permit the CAC to ignore the issues art presents. As much as Platow wants to insist with each exhibition art is so broad "visitors can bring their own ideas," she's wrong. Again, the CAC appears to ignore the issues surrounding those which it would rather exploit. There is nothing yet scheduled this year (certainly not during 2010 Hispanic Heritage Month) dealing with Latino culture. So far, the lecture series associated with "Where Do We Go From Here" includes a talk by a science and technology professor and another by a photographer/NFL linebacker. Perhaps by the last week of the show, the CAC can hold a panel discussion on Latino pop culture.

Simply drawing a quote from Martin Luther King Jr. and exhibiting works by artists with Latin American names does not absolved the CAC of marginalizing communities of people. The goal of the Jumex Collection is inclusion, the title is a call to continue the work of inclusion. In choosing to ignoring this history for open-ended party themes is irresponsible. Is the CAC going to invite this discussion and answer King's question? The CAC failed to ask and answer the important questions associated with street art last year and murals were destroyed. To recontexualize a private Mexican collection of art as one that responds to Latino issues and fail to lead the discussion it presents risks a similar white-washing of cultural identities.

Thursday, September 16, 2010

Support Your Community By Supporting Its History

"I didn't realize there were so many museums around here."

"I've lived here all my life, but haven't visited any of these places."

"This is all free?!"

"I remember visiting the Taft and the Fire Museum on a field trip when I was in school, but haven't been back. I should really visit again soon."

"My kids really liked this museum when the school took them."

"I should really get over to see these museums."

These are some of things I heard on Fountain Square yesterday during Museum Day. Museums from all over Greater Cincinnati showed off their educational programming, histories, and wares. While a few where surprised to see such a wealth of history and culture, many more expressed a matter of fact sense of pride in their Queen City. They knew.

So while a loud and vocal few continue to complain there is not much in Cincinnati, and a younger group of professionals who have transplanted themselves in (or transitioning through) Cincinnati call for events, services to appeal to their tastes, those rooted here know the city's wealth. And this wealth and love for the city is what keeps many of these historical sites and museums free.

So be sure to visit and support our historical sites and museums.

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Ohio Historical Society Offers Free Architectural Symposium

The Ohio Historic Preservation Office of the Ohio Historical Society has launched the Ohio Modern: Preserving Our Recent Past project covering the important social, political, and economic trends that shaped land use decisions, architectural styles, property types and building technology in Ohio from 1940-1970. The Ohio Modern products include a statewide historic context publication and a historic architecture survey identifying and evaluating mid-20th century properties and neighborhoods in Dayton and neighboring suburban communities including Centerville, Huber Heights, Trotwood, Fairborn, Kettering, Oakwood and Vandalia.

Plan now to attend a free symposium on September 30, from 10 a.m. – 2 p.m., at the Ohio Historical Center, in Columbus, to learn about the variety of building types, styles, special characteristics and architectural features that define the “Ohio Modern” period. The day will include presentations on the research conducted, a panel discussion on the modern era in Ohio, guidance on evaluating the significance of modern buildings for listing in the National Register of Historic Places and an architectural tour of the Ohio Historical Center. To register, visit by September 24. An optional box lunch for $9 can be pre-ordered online. Questions? Call 614-298-2000.

More information can be found at the Ohio Historic Preservation Office.

Cedric Cox Continues to Teach Us to See Where We Stand

Over a year since interviewing him, you can see here why Cedric Cox is still one of my favorite local artists. His interests in rooting his work in local spaces and teaching students how to see is an inspiration to community.

Friday, September 3, 2010

Cincinnati Arts Community Speaks

City Beat asks a number of leaders in Greater Cincinnati's arts community what they would like to see happening in the local arts.

Many noted more money, some said more art, but only one noted a need for a more sustained conversation about art and the importance of the art critic. Tamara Lenz Muente criticized the dwindling media coverage of the arts. I'm sure as a writer for City Beat, she sees the irony that this story represents one of a mere few comprehensive stories on the visual arts appearing in City Beat annually. And even this one manages only a single question, "What's Missing?"

Thank you Tamara, more needs to be said and read.

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Fine Arts Fund Takes the Money and NYC

At the close of its successful community (sic) campaign that raised over $10 million, the Fine Arts Fund promised to announce a transition plan that will include a new name and a new mission. While the new name has yet to be released, the mission suggests an opening of a larger umbrella covering not only the local arts, but additional cultural institutions throughout Greater Cincinnati and its suburbs. The FAF states also its plans to move from focusing on the financial needs of the local arts to looking at how the arts impact our community.

So where is the money you donated to the Fine Arts Fund going if not to tend to the financial needs of the local arts?

Here, the FAF lists benefactors of the money collected during their capital campaign. As you might expect, the list includes many of the major arts and cultural organizations in the region from Northern Kentucky to Hamilton, Ohio. What this "complete list of investments in the arts" does not include is Resnicow Schroeder, a New York firm specializing in marketing the arts.

Earlier this year, Gov. Ted Strickland named Cincinnati as Ohio's Marketing Hub:

"Cincinnati's Hub designation will assist this region's already strong business and educational community in attracting young creative talent, new companies and job opportunities in consumer marketing to Ohio," Strickland said. "Targeted investments in Ohio's urban regions and businesses are a critical piece of our economic development strategy to create jobs and strengthen Ohio's economy."

Did the Fine Arts Fund not know this when they rejected marketing and re-branding campaign proposals from local marketing firms merely days after (before?) collecting over $10 million from the community in the name of the local arts? What happened to their support of local artists when they decided to hire New York branding artists?

Rumor has it the Fine Arts Fund will eliminate the word "Arts" in their re-branding strategy. We'll see what the FAF has to say when they formally unveil their new brand, but right now it appears not all money donated is spent locally and the financial well-being of the arts has been back-burnered for marketing of the FAF.